Friday, May 30, 2003

Gubernatorial Speculations

I think it's well past time that I put in a comment or two on the Hollingworth debacle. There's not much I can say on the conduct of the various players in this political spectacle that hasn't been said repeatedly elsewhere, so instead I'll just jump into the general speculation on who the next Governor-General will be, with maybe a comment or two on the constitutional issues, which are being canvassed around the place, sometimes where you'd least expect it.

There's been some comment that the way Peter Hollingworth was hounded out of the job will make it difficult to find a successor. The idea is, that given the level of scrutiny that the next Gubernatorial appointee's past life will be subjected to, no prominent Australian in his (or her) right mind would go near the job. To be nominated as the next Governor-General, it is argued, is as good as being handed the chalice from the palace. Or was it the vessel with the pestle? The flagon with the dragon perhaps. Whatever - I'm getting side-tracked. Personally I'm indifferent on this score: anything that helps to prevent Rene Rivkin or Rodney Adler from taking up residence at Yarralumla is fine by me. Still, in the interests of putting this behind us, it would be best that the next Governor-General be someone who won't be shifted from the office in the way that Peter Hollingworth has.

I doubt that John Howard will take up the other suggestion that has been floated, that the new Governor-General should be endorsed by a two-thirds majority of Parliament. As a constitutional monarchist, I'm sure that he will recognise this for what it is: an attempt to sneak in the minimalist republic, rejected at the 1999 referendum, through the back door. It's more likely in my view that he will take one of those bold steps forward into the past that typify the Howard style of politics.

Let's not forget that John Howard is, as George Bush said, a man of steel. He showed, in taking us into the war with Iraq that he is prepared to go against public opinion when moved by personal conviction so it's reason able to expect that he will be equally firm and resolved when it comes to the much less difficult issue of appointing a Governor-General. My tip is that, in line with his monarchist beliefs, John Howard will give us a Governor-General who truly represents the Queen. An English Governor-General, to represent our English Queen. Very soon, Australia will have an Iron Lady to match our Man of Steel, Baroness Thatcher herself.

You may call this idea far-fetched, but it has a lot going for it, both from John Howard's point of view and the Queen's. History will remember John Howard as the first Prime Minister to appoint a woman to the job of Governor-General: this might make up for his failure to put his personal stamp on the Constitution with the new "comfortable and relaxed" preamble. The idea that Lady Margaret could be hounded out of office by the media is, frankly, laughable. And for the Queen there would be some payback for all the scoldings she allegedly received from the Baroness back in the days when she was a mere Prime Minister.

Afterthought: if you're wondering why the Stalin joke is missing, it's because plenty of other people have used it already.

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